Generation Y in the Workplace Explained.
By Teresa Wu
Thursday, 11th December 2008
As Gen Y enters the professional world, we bring a whole new set of rules - We're often criticized for our restless job-jumping or our sense of entitlement. The truth is, we might play the game differently, but that doesn't mean we're not every bit as bright, innovative, and hardworking. Here's why.

We crave personal development

We're a generation that spends our days on the internet. Unlike time spent front of the television, much of our spent online makes us learn valuable information and engage in meaningful conversation. As a result, we're always learning more about our specific interests and picking up new skills. If we aren't being challenged, if we're not constantly learning from the projects we take on, if we're not allowed to test new waters — you can bet we'll seek out new jobs.

We pursue unconventional paths

In a time of low job security, rather than taking the single corporate job path, many of us will explore our options, whether that means taking on multiple jobs or starting our own businesses. One of my friends is a lab research assistant, fashion designer, corsage maker, and a pilates instructor. Others hold regular day jobs and are bloggers, freelance writers, web developers, or designers by night. By branching into different professional territories, we're taking opportunities to strengthen our abilities and expand our networks.

We value company culture

No longer is a company just a place to toil away at a desk from 9-5 — we're looking for a vibrant community in which our coworkers are our friends and our bosses are our mentors. We want a company that'll provide structure without hovering over our lunch breaks or dictating the way in which we get things done.

We're not afraid to ask

We've been taught the importance of asking for exactly what we want. We're not afraid to raise difficult questions in the workplace. Especially now that the channels of communication are wide open, we have fewer reservations than ever about taking our ideas to top-level management. Moreover, we recognize the value of great career mentors — because we can literally contact anyone in our dream profession, we will seek these people out, ask for opportunities, and strive to build relationships with them.

We embrace transparency

While Generation X continues to emphasize the importance of maintaining a professional online image, we who grew up using Facebook and MySpace as places to share our photos and lives with our friends don't want to turn it into a purely professional arena. I've found that the most meaningful connections I've made were when I've exposed the more personal aspects of my life. Plus, the next generations will literally grow up documenting their entire lives online. It's unrealistic to expect them to erase their histories off the internet once they reach a certain age. Employers must learn to judge job applicants not by their past but by what they can bring to the company.

We just want to do what we love

It's true; we do have a sense of entitlement. Our parents raised us to think we could do anything — and as a result, we're determined to have exactly our dream jobs. We'll keep searching until we find something we can do that's personally fulfilling. However, as long as our careers provide both the opportunities and rewards we thirst for, we'll be more than willing to invest serious time and energy into our work. If you can give us that, we'll be star performers.

Written by Teresa Wu a guest at The Social Media 100, a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by www.chrisbrogan.com

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